Friday, April 28, 2006

Adventures in ADD

As I've mentioned before, I suspect that I have ADD. I have never been officially diagnosed, but the last time I looked at the DSM-IV, I had just about every symptom. I am not convinced this is a disease, but I have noticed that it does cause me to do things differently than other people. When I watch TV, I don't watch a particular show, I watch all of them. If someone is with me, I'll surrender the remote control so they don't lose their mind. When I use a PC, I'll have 5-10 windows open and the Alt-TAB combination is my preferred keystroke combination. In general, I don't think it causes me any hardship and I am doubt I will ever seek medical treatment for it. However, sometimes it causes me to do fairly idiotic things.

Wednesday night, I came home from work and turned the kitchen light and nothing happened. It is a two-tubed fluorescent light that is mounted on the ceiling. I figured it was probably a bad bulb, but when I went to Lowe's, I also bought a replacement ballast, just in case. I got home and replaced the bulbs. I flipped the switch with no results. I fiddled with bulbs and repeated the process several times, but the new bulbs wouldn't light.

This meant that the ballast was probably bad. I retrieved the new ballast from the shopping bag and observed this warning printed on the side of the box: DANGER - DISCONNECT POWER TO BALLAST AND FIXTURE BEFORE INSTALLING. I thought to myself, "No shit, sherlock. If you don't know that in the first place, you shouldn't be screwing with it." What they really mean is that you should throw the circuit breaker before disconnecting the ballast's wiring. Being a jackass, I sneered at this and thought, "That's silly. That's what the switch on the wall is for. After all, electricity is my bitch." Yeah, right.

Actually, my reasoning would have been sound for a person without ADD, because they would have undoubtedly paid attention to what position they left the wall switch in. I, on the other hand, did not. I climbed the ladder and undid the wire nuts for the power to the light. I noticed that the exposed portion of the hot wire was corroded. So, I stripped the wire back and then touched it with my hand. My other hand was on the grounded metal of the fixture and that's all that was required to complete the circuit. If you are scoring at home, here is a schematic of the circuit:

Luckily, I was able to get off the hot wire. This was accomplished easily by falling off the ladder. Or, maybe I should say by falling through the ladder, because I ended up straddling the second highest rung with each leg. If you've ever ridden a boy's bike and fallen on the crossbeam then you get the idea. Regardless, unless you dream of a career with the Vienna Boy's Choir, I can't recommend it.

I did manage to get the light fixed and it turned out to be only the corroded wire. One day, I'm sure that I, too, can look back at this and laugh. Probably after the swelling in my crotch subsides.


At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Jason J. Thomas said...

When you have ADD, you can't be bothered with simple details like flipping a circuit breaker. That's valuable time you're wasting.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Tickersoid said...

Great post, I love the diagram.

Actually I would have done the same as you.

Washing machines are my nemasis.

I've got a scar on my right arm where I suddenly remembered to put the drive belt back on, after I'd reconnected the mains. It's 240v over here! Couldn't take my arms off the contact points, had to haul them out using my back.


At 9:10 AM, Blogger Broadsheet said...

I'm sending you the dry cleaning bill for my silk blouse that now has coffee snort all over it. Thanks for the laugh.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger TheIdleReceptionist said...

Ok, sorry but I was practically laughing out loud there...

Your diagram made me remember middle school science classes where we did this whole stint on electricity and voltage and learned how to draw the diagrams and symbols and such.

Good times.

But not as good times as sending voltage through your rerproductive areas. When you have children and they all posess the freakish powers of "Powder," you'll totally know why.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger doggerelblogger said...

I remember reading somewhere that sometimes when people have electric current travelling through their bodies (usually by accident) they are unable to release their grip on whatever they're holding that's completing the circuit. So nearby friends and co-workers have to take "break" the circuit by "breaking" an arm.

I'm glad you did not require these kinds of services.

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your picture shows that you were in the neutral line. I can't see how you got shocked.

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous JennyGags said...

New light bulb: $6.95

New pants: $12.95

Story & diagram: Priceless!

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Cham said...

I have done the same thing so don't feel bad. In fact, anyone who has ever performed any wiring has done that so don't feel bad.

I thought of you while in Guatemala. Since all Guatemala building are made out of concrete, stucco and metal rooves, it is impossible for them to burn down so the folks learn to play fast and loose with the wiring.

When we didn't have an electrical outlet in Antigua, our innkeeper quickly installed one Please note how the light is on while he works his electrical magic.

If one is lucky they put black electrical tape over the connections, but most times they don't.

For your viewing pleasure:

the new outlet

safety conscious electrician


At 12:07 PM, Blogger chunky monkey said...

oh my gosh that picture is hilarious. Awesome diagram.

And I DID laugh out loud.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger tfg said...

jjt-That's absolutely right.

tickersoid-Thanks. You were lucky to get off 240V. I got shocked by 240V once, too. I had to sit down and think about it ahwile.

broadsheet-Thanks and sorry.

idle-I probably should have paid more attention in the electricity classes.

doggerelblogger-Yes, electric shock induces involuntary muscle contractions. That's why smart guys play with energized circuits with one hand behind their back. It prevents a current from passing through the heart. Of course, real smart guys don't play with hot circuits at all.

anon1-Neutral is grounded. Everything below the switch is hot and I was the load. That's all it takes.

jennygags-Thanks. Might need to add a cup to that list, too.

Cham-Nice pics. I showed that to some of our shop guys and they liked it. Glad you made it back safely.


At 3:34 PM, Blogger johnny dollar said...

lolz, again

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Chris said...

This truly lit up my day. Oh god, the puns...

At 11:08 AM, Blogger awaiting said...

I am terrified at the thought of being electricuted or shocked! I am one of those people who is skiddish even at changing the light bulb! Love the pic!

Btw, the crotch any better?

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Charles said...

Yo, Hope you are alright. I love the diagram too, and I am sure that the drawing was funnier than what actually happened.

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous ~ Stacy ~ said...

"Crotch Lightning"




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